Prints & Engravings 

 

Today there is little appreciation of engravings, but this was not the case in the nineteenth century. Engravings were the sole means by which most people could see the “Old Masters” or the works of artists from other countries. The competent engraver was viewed as an artist. Both the American Art Union and the Royal Academy of England recognized engraving as a fine art.

 

Adelicia collected during a period in which the mezzotint and line engraving dominated the field of large framing prints. Most if not all of Adelicia’s prints would have been a combination of engraving and mezzotint. Mercy’s Dream by A. H. Ritchie (American, 1822-1895) from a painting by Daniel Huntington (American, 1816-1909) was a part of her collection and considered one of the great works of this period.

 

The popularity of prints was given a great deal of help by the establishment of the Art Unions, both in this country and in England. The first Art Union was started in London in 1836; the Printsellers’ Association was founded in 1847. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert also helped popularize prints with royal patronage. By the middle of the nineteenth century, pictures of topical interest were the most popular.  The collection of known prints at Belmont followed true to form in that they all pertained to literary and historical subject matter.